I attended the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States in Washington. In my perspective, the speech by Trump stressed divide and for the American society, the message could hardly narrow rifts that have already widened.
The president-elect had his chance to inspire people through a public speech instead of twitter posts. Based on the contents, we could see he had tried his best to be inspirational. But the reality is, it remains hard to tell if the Trump address did anything to bridge the divide.
First, Trump defines the ills of the American society as opposition between common people and politicians. He further highlighted the divide in the speech, which is hardly helpful considering a divided country really doesn’t need any further rifts.
Second, Trump once again made a point of his clash with John Lewis, accusing the civil rights leader of being all talk and no action. By doing so, Trump drives home the point that politicians like Lewis do nothing for common people but fill their own pockets.
Observing the whole speech, we can tell that accusations would not lead to a narrowing of the divide and more mutual understanding. Politics need compromise. So, it is foreseeable that the divide and divergence will widen instead of narrowing in the near future.
Besides, Trump failed to gain as many votes as Hillary. So, many protestors came to the event to express their views. There were fears that the opponents might disrupt the inauguration, so the security had been heightened this time.
When George W. Bush took office, he also faced protests and controversy. The difference this time was that the security was much more heightened.
Third, Trump claimed border issues to be the core of all American issues. He’s still targeting Islamic immigrants, emphasizing job losses and calling for withdrawal from the international stage. So, the perception of the US under Trump as anti-globalization and protectionist is further intensified.
For example, he asked for citizens to buy things made in the US and hire American people. He emphasized America first. All his proposals run against the US position of being the leader of the western world. Other western countries would have difficulty accepting his conceptions.
The basic idea of Trump’s diplomatic policy is to gain more new jobs for Americans and protect resources from being wasted. He did not especially mention any specific country, like China or Russia. The internal threats of the US come not from terrorism, Islamic extremism, black people or minorities.
The fear comes from within the US itself. If Trump doesn’t address the anxieties and create peace of mind, then the divide and confrontation would cause more harm. At least the elite are overwhelmingly concerned about the future of the country, and some would even argue that Trump may not be capable of lasting the full four-year term.
Guo Xuetang is director and professor of Institute of International Business, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics.
(Opinions expressed in the article don't represent those of the Sino-US.com.)